Nelson Mandela's daughters have dropped a high-profile court battle to wrest control of two companies set up to manage proceeds from his iconic handprints, lawyers said Thursday.

Makaziwe and Zenani Mandela-Dlamini's application to remove four directors appointed by their ailing father had been "unconditionally withdrawn" and costs paid, law firm Norton Rose Fulbright said in a statement.

"This ill-considered and misguided application had the effect of causing reputational harm not only to the respondents as directors and trustees but also to the Trust and the image of the founder, Mr Nelson Mandela himself," said the statement from the lawyers, who are representing the directors.

Mandela's daughters had argued the trustees were not properly appointed to Harmonieux Investment Holdings and Magnifique Investment Holdings.

The two companies were set up to channel money from the sale of Mandela's famous handprints for his family's benefit.

The four directors included human rights lawyer and Mandela's personal friend George Bizos, former cabinet minister Tokyo Sexwale and his ex-lawyer Bally Chuene.

"The unfounded allegations made by the applicants cast doubt upon the legitimacy of the appointment of these directors, which had been upon the express instructions of Mr Mandela," they said through their lawyers.

"This was unfortunate and regrettable."

Earlier this year, lawyer Ismail Ayob -- who himself has a chequered past with Mandela and was representing the daughters -- withdrew from the case.

Ayob was himself removed from Mandela's trust after selling fake artwork and pocketing millions of dollars. He paid back nearly $100,000 in a court settlement in 2007.

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